Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category
In a small, pristine garage in North County San Diego, an unusual project is under way. Huddled around a single steel chassis, a team of expert automotive welders is fabricating a new high-tech supercar, dubbed the Lucra L148. It’s the brainchild of Luke Richards, a quixotic entrepreneur and former pilot, who founded Lucra Cars in 2006. If all goes as planned, Richards and his team of 12 full-time craftsmen hope to create one of the most technologically advanced American supercars ever made.
Unlike most supercar projects, which can take years, if not decades, to complete, Richards plans to deliver the first L148 in the summer of 2014, just one year after the initial renderings. He expects the price to be comparable to that of a new Ferrari or Aston Martin, around $260,000. “A lot of guys try to build a $100,000 car that’s as good as a $300,000 car, but then what you end up with is a failed, expensive, cheap car, all at once,” said Richards. “It needs the correct budget to be built right.”
That hefty budget will include a computer-designed carbon-fiber exterior, a lightweight, super-strong chassis made from chromoly steel – the same material used on Baja 1000 Pro Trucks – mated to a 700-hp GM LS V-8 engine, and several components Richards refer to as being “mil-spec,” or military specification, including a wiring harness typically found on most military aircraft. And unlike Richards’ first creation, the LC470, which was featured in “The Fast and Furious 6“ and on a recent episode ofTop Gear U.S., the L148 will come equipped with air conditioning, satellite radio, and GPS navigation. Hallelujah.
But to understand what makes the L148 unique, and not just some cobbled-together custom car, it’s important to understand how Lucra Cars came to be.
Richards, 42, was born in England, the son of an English father and an American mother. When his parents divorced and his mother returned to the United States, Richards became the product of an intercontinental breakup, spending half his time in Connecticut and the other half in London.
Along the way, he developed a simultaneous appreciation for American muscle cars and finely-tuned European sports cars.”My dad always said you can have a car that goes fast in the straightaways or handles well in the turns, but you can’t have both,” he said. “And that was the attitude for a long time, that you couldn’t merge them together at all.”
Following numerous stints in the car business, Richards moved to San Diego and launched Lucra Cars, promising to build a car that would marry American power with European precision handling. “I couldn’t afford an automotive franchise at the time, so I created Lucra,” he said, noting that prior to starting the business, he had taken up residence on his small vintage boat docked in San Diego Harbor. “Besides, owning a dealership would not have done anything for my creative needs.”
Interestingly, Richards says he credits his extensive automotive expertise to an early passion for 1:8 scale radio-controlled cars. “I learned all about aerodynamics and I had all this gear – slicks and extra tires, different bodies and wings, fully adjustable suspensions – it was like running a little Indy Car,” he said, noting that he holds fond memories of racing RC cars with his father at London’s now-defunct Crystal Palace circuit. “They were like little cruise missiles on the ground – sway bars, shocks, disc brakes, gears – everything a real car has, they have.”
The early days of the company were challenging as Richards struggled to find footing in California’s highly competitive custom car scene. But after the introduction of the LC470, a lightning fast, Lister-inspired roadster, he was able to catch the eye of legendary movie car designer Dennis McCarthy, who asked Richards to consult on numerous high profile projects, including several of “The Fast and Furious“ movies.
“Profit is kind of an equal spread between selling our own cars, helping to design vehicles for Hollywood, and a bit of restoration work,” said Richards, adding that he has sold 57 examples of the LC470, which range in price from $90,000 to $130,000, depending on engine options.
With interest in the LC470 at an all-time high and the introduction of the L148 just a few months away, Richards hopes to be selling between 100 and 200 cars per year within the next five years. “From there I would like to see the next stage of Lucra happen where we get a much larger level of funding and where we go forward and build a big production car — where we move up to the level of Lotus,” he said. “Basically, everything should multiply by 10 every time you make a jump.”
He’s also aware that most niche-market automotive manufacturers often struggle in the face of heavy competition from larger brands. But he doesn’t care. Richards explained that he is out to change the landscape, instead of conform to it. “If you’re in a band, you can play cover songs all day long and play in the local bar down the street till the cows come home,” he said. “If you want to make something of yourself, you have to go write your own music at some point. Otherwise, you are never going to be Van Halen.”
After its debut at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show, the Gallardo marked a turn for Lamborghini, as the Italian automaker cranked up its production rate, from about 250 cars per year to around 2,000.
That’s why the Gallardo is the best-selling model in its history — the company made a whole lot more of them than of anything else.
In 50 years, Lamobrghini has built about 30,000 cars, 14,022 of them Gallardos. Over the past decade, there have been a wide range of special versions with names no one can keep straight. We’ve seen the Gallardo Spyder, Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera, the Gallardo LP 570-4 Spyder Performante, the Super Trofeo Stradale, and the Gallardo LP 570-4 Squadra Corse. Each has been very cool, very powerful, and very fast.
We’re sorry there will be no more.
The last unit built is a Gallardo LP 570-4 Spyder Performante in Rosso Mars (red), and is being purchased by a private collector.
The Accord is a mid-sized family sedan that is available in hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions as well as fully gasoline-powered versions with four- and six-cylinder engines.
“Mainstream buyers have long found the Accord a popular choice because of its efficiency, functionality safety and value,” Green Car Journal editor Ron Cogan said in a statement. “With the addition of exceptional hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions to the already fuel-efficient Accord line, Honda (HMC)’s Accord becomes an even more compelling choice.”
The Accord Hybrid gets EPA-estimated 50 miles per gallon in city driving and 47 on the highway. (Hybrid cars often get better fuel economy in low-speed city driving than in highway cruising.)
The Accord Plug-in gets slightly lower city and highway mileage than the non-plug-in hybrid but it can go 12 miles on a charge before using any gasoline, according to EPA estimates.
Even gasoline-powered Accords are very fuel-efficient for their class. The V6 gets 34 mpg on the highway while the four-cylinder gets 36.
The other finalists for the award this year were two diesel-powered cars, the BMW 328d and Audi A6 TDI. Diesel cars are more fuel efficient that gasoline-powered cars. Two compact cars, the Toyota (TM) Corolla and Mazda3, were also finalists for the award.
To be eligible for the award, a car must be all-new or have significant changes for the new model year.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Auto Show opens to the public Friday after two days of media previews. Here are some of the most buzz-worthy vehicles being introduced at this year’s show:
BMW 4 SERIES CONVERTIBLE
BMW adds a convertible to its 4 Series line of two-door coupes, which debuted over the summer. The 4 Series replaced the 3 Series coupe; BMW is now reserving the 3 Series name for four-door sedans. The convertible, which goes on sale in the U.S. early next year, has a three-piece retractable hardtop that can be automatically lowered in 20 seconds at low speeds. To keep away the chill, the car has optional neck warmers in the driver and passenger seats. As in the 4 Series coupe, there are two engine choices: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 240 horsepower in the 428i and a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder with 300 horsepower in the 435i. Both have an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 428i is offered as a rear-wheel-drive or an all-wheel-drive, while the 435i is only offered as a rear-wheel-drive. The 428i starts at $49,675, around $8,000 more than the starting price of the coupe. The 435i starts at $55,825.
Porsche is entering the fast-growing small SUV market with the Macan. The Macan — the name comes from the Indonesian word for “tiger” — is six inches shorter than its sibling, the Cayenne SUV, but features the same muscular look. It also uses some tricks to look more substantial, like a broad, wraparound hood that encompasses the headlights. Porsche designed two versions: The Macan S, with a new, 3.0-liter V6 engine that gets 340 horsepower and the Macan Turbo, with a new 3.6-liter V6 that gets 400 horsepower. Standard features include an off-road mode, which adjusts the torque, shifter and other functions for off-roading at the touch of a button. There’s an optional air suspension chassis, which can set the vehicle’s ground clearance at three different levels. Porsche says the feature is unique to the Macan among small SUVs. The Macan goes on sale this spring at a starting price of $50,895 for the Macan S and $73,295 for the Macan Turbo. Sales of small luxury SUVs are up 25 percent so far this year, making them the fastest-growing segment in the luxury market.
FORD EDGE CONCEPT
Ford says its Edge concept vehicle previews the design direction and technology of the company’s future SUVs. The lines on the concept are sharper and more angled than the current Edge, and it adopts the trapezoidal grille shape and narrow headlights of Ford’s newer products. Advanced safety features include an automated parking system that can find and park in a perpendicular space. The system can even be activated remotely, pulling the car out of a tight spot before the driver gets in. The Edge concept also will automatically steer away from obstacles and brake to avoid a collision. The Edge mid-size SUV has recently been overshadowed by Ford’s newer SUVs, including the small Escape and larger Explorer. This will be the Edge’s first full redesign since it was introduced in 2007. The new Edge will also target a global audience — it will be sold in Europe, China and South America for the first time. Ford isn’t yet saying when the new Edge will go on sale, but it’s likely to arrive sometime next year.
JAGUAR F-TYPE COUPE
The F-Type convertible, which went on sale in the spring, was Jaguar’s first two-seat sports car in 50 years. Now the company’s adding a hardtop version. The 2015 F-Type coupe, which goes on sale this spring, starts at $65,000, or $4,000 less than the convertible. The base model of the all-aluminum coupe — made, in part, from recycled metal — has a 340-horsepower V6 engine and a top speed of 161 mph. For $77,000, buyers can upgrade to a V6 with 380 horsepower and a top speed of 171 mph. At the top of the lineup is the $99,000 F-Type R, which has a 550-horsepower V8 engine and goes from zero to 60 mph in four seconds. It has a top speed of 186 mph. All versions have an eight-speed transmission and a hidden rear spoiler that automatically rises at 70 mph and tucks back in at 50 mph or less. Jaguar’s U.S. sales are up 36 percent so far this year, thanks to the F-Type convertible and the recently redesigned XF sedan.
MERCEDES VISION GRAN TURISMO/GLA45 AMG CONCEPTS
The Vision Gran Turismo super sports car, with its wild and fluid lines and extreme proportions, will draw viewers to Mercedes’ stand at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Gran Turismo is pure fantasy, designed for the PlayStation racing game Gran Turismo 6. The virtual model (a scale model of the show car, complete with Mercedes’ signature gull-wing doors) will be available for download next month. While a car like this won’t ever be produced, look for some of the design elements — like the LED lights that replace louvers on the grille — on future super sports cars. The GLA45 AMG concept, a small SUV from Mercedes’ AMG performance division, is closer to reality. Like Porsche and Lincoln, Mercedes is entering the fast-growing, compact luxury SUV market with its upcoming GLA series. The GLA45 concept has a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 355 horsepower. No word on when it will hit the market.
Volkswagen announced that its first fully electric car, the e-Golf, will go on sale in the U.S. at the end of 2014. The e-Golf is based on the seventh-generation gasoline-powered Golf, which is headed to the U.S. this spring. VW says the new Golf was designed from the outset to house either a gas engine or an electric motor and battery. The e-Golf, which will be a five-door hatchback, has a 115-horsepower electric motor and a 264-cell lithium-ion battery that’s tucked into the frame beneath the front and rear passenger seats. Both the motor and the battery were developed by Volkswagen in Germany. Volkswagen says the car can go 70 to 90 miles on a charge, depending in part on which of three modes (normal, eco or eco-plus) the driver selects. Among its energy saving features are a special pump that uses heat from the driving components — instead of the battery — to warm the cabin and Volkswagen’s first standard LED headlights. VW says the e-Golf will be sold, at first, in states that have adopted zero-emission vehicle targets, including California, Connecticut, New York, Oregon and Maryland. Pricing hasn’t been announced.
While they’re just starting to catch on en masse in the U.S., diesel-powered vehicles have long been in service around the world. Diesel cars offer a more miserly approach to fuel consumption but not to the detriment of performance, which consumer-grade hybrids tend to suffer from.
A new round of emissions standards punched a dent in diesel sales, but since then, their numbers have seen steady increases, and more manufacturers are developing cars and trucks that are readily compliant with America’s newer diesel standards. Even American companies are jumping on the bandwagon.
Here are six new diesel models slated for 2014, hand-picked by GreenCarReports, each offering some not-insignificant fuel consumption advantages over traditional internal combustion engine-powered vehicles.
1. Audi A6
Audi has a whole slew of new diesel models bound for the U.S. next year, and the A6 is one of them. The midsize sedan achieves a combined 29 miles per gallon from a 3-liter V6 turbo diesel that puts out 240 horsepower and an impressive 406 pounds-feet of torque. Diesel variants of the A7, A8, and Q5 will be joining the A6 as well as the incumbent Q7.
2. BMW 328d
In BMW’s revival of the 328d, the new car will use a 2-liter, four-cylinder power plant, good for 180 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque. The new 328d is aimed at improved fuel efficiency, with 37 miles per gallon combined, whereas the previous generation was more power and performance oriented.
3. Chevrolet Cruze
As one of the more affordable options shown here, General Motors (NYSE:GM) has slid a diesel unit with 151 horsepower into its compact car, which is good for 33 miles per gallon combined — 27 in the city and 46 on the highway. The 2014 Cruze is Chevy’s first diesel passenger car in 28 years.
4. Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel
Like the Chevy, the new Grand Cherokee with the EcoDiesel option is Jeep’s first foray into the oil-burning market in several years. The 3-liter V6 turbo diesel unit produces 240 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque, and is offered courtesy of Jeep’s parent, Fiat (FIATY.PK). It’s good for 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on the highway when equipped with four-wheel drive.
5. Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
The Ram represents the only diesel-powered light-duty pickup in the market, as its competition only uses the diesel units in its heavy-duty trucks. The Ram uses the same 3-liter V6 that’s fitted to the Jeep, presumably with similar consumption figures. Ram says owners can make back the higher purchase cost — $2,850 over the standard ICE model — in fuel savings within three years,depending on how many miles the truck covers and the local price of diesel fuel.
6. Volkswagen Golf TDI
The Golf TDI has long represented one of America’s top-selling diesel models, andVolkswagen (VLKAY.PK) is throwing a redesigned version at the market next year as a 2015 model, though no 2014 model will be introduced. Currently, the car manages around 30 miles per gallon in the city and 42 on the highway, but it wouldn’t be outlandish to expect higher figures upon the car’s release.
DETROIT (AP) — For years, the joke in the auto industry was that a mass-produced car that runs on hydrogen was always a decade away.
“These things are now ready for prime time,” John Krafcik, Hyundai’s North American CEO, said last week. His company plans to announce details of the new Tucson on Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Even as the industry focused on battery-powered and hybrid cars, automakers such as Hyundai, Honda and Toyota kept up research on fuel cells. Now they appear to have conquered obstacles such as high costs, safety concerns and a lack of filling stations. These vehicles could help the companies meet stricter future fuel-economy standards.
Automakers have been dabbling in hydrogen-powered cars since the 1960s. General Motors announced a test fleet of hydrogen-powered Chevy Equinoxes in the mid-2000s, and Honda leased about two-dozen FCX Clarity models for $600 per month starting in 2005.
President George W. Bush allocated $1.2 billion for hydrogen research and said in his 2003 State of the Union address: “The first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen and pollution free.” But the program was largely scrapped by the Obama administration, which focused more on battery-powered vehicles.
Hyundai now is making Bush’s forecast come true, beating other auto companies to the mass market with Tucsons that have electric motors powered by a stack of hydrogen fuel cells. Hyundai plans to start selling the vehicles in Southern California and eventually spread to other areas as filling stations are built.
Hyundai says it has overcome safety and storage issues with a rear-mounted tank that has passed numerous crash tests without incident. As for filling stations, the California Air Resources Board says there currently are nine open to the public in the state. Legislators recently allocated about $100 million, or $20 million a year, to build 100 more.
Also at the Los Angeles show, Honda Motor Co. is scheduled to show off a fuel-cell concept vehicle, which it says hints at the aerodynamic design of the next generation fuel-cell vehicle to be launched in 2015. Further details weren’t available.
Toyota Motor Corp. is scheduled to unveil its own concept fuel-cell vehicle at this week’s Tokyo Motor Show. That one also is likely for distribution in the mass market in 2015.
General Motors continues work on its fuel-cell vehicles.
The largest U.S. automaker, which has spent a lot of time and resources on battery-powered cars such as the Chevrolet Volt, has no fuel-cell vehicles currently in its new product pipeline, spokesman Dan Flores said Monday. He said more work needs to be done on cost and infrastructure to make the cars viable.
Hyundai is expected to introduce prices and details of how its cars will be sold or leased at the Los Angeles show. Automakers usually offer leases when they put new technology on the market.
Hydrogen cars likely will help automakers meet new goals from eight key states to put more zero-emissions cars on the road. The states, including California and New York, pledged late last month to work together to put 3.3 million battery-powered cars, plug-in hybrids and other clean-burning vehicles on the roads in those states by 2025. That’s more than 15 times as many zero-emission vehicles projected to be in use in the entire U.S. by 2015.
The other states in the pact are Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont. The eight states together represent about 23 percent of the U.S. auto market.
The new Corvette has more power and better fuel economy than last year’s model. It’s powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine that can put out as much as 460 horsepower but that can also get 29 miles per gallon in highway cruising.
“The Corvette has long been a tremendous performance value wrapped in an all-American package,” the magazine says in its review of the car. “Now, however, with new-found sophistication and user-friendliness, the [new Corvette] should melt the barriers that have kept away so many driving enthusiasts.”
Automobile Magazine editor-in-chief Jean Jennings lauded the Corvette’s overall design, performance, quality and comfort.
“The automobile of the year has to set a standard,” she said. “It has to break a category in a way that really excites us,” she said.
The new Corvette should finally repair the image that Corvette has had for years as a car that only appealed to those seeking a flashy look, not real performance and sophistication. The new car’s interior, in particular, is a break from Corvettes of the past, which, even when they offered serious performance, were disappointingly cheap, she said.
In CNNMoney’s own test drive of the new Corvette, we found it be a huge improvement over an already very credible sports car. The new interior has a much nicer design and higher quality than the outgoing model, while the car feels quicker, better balanced and more intuitive to drive.
Prices for the base Stingray start at just under $52,000.
To be eligible for the award, a car must be completely or substantially new for the new model year. This is the second major award for General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) in recent weeks. The Cadillac CTS was named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year earlier this month. Motor Trend and Automobile Magazine are both owned by Source Interlink, but the two magazines operate independently.
At the same time that it announced the award for the Corvette, Automobile announced that it was naming Tadge Juechter, lead engineer on the Corvette, as its Man of the Year.
Born from a desire to take open-wheel racing into the 21st century, the DeltaWing race car has struggled along for the past few years, searching for a niche to demonstrate its fuel-saving attributes. No automaker has embraced its design more than Nissan, which has hired the DeltaWing’s designer for its own experimental race cars. Last week, Nissan revealed it’s considering ways to make a wing-shaped electric sports car more than a track toy.
Set for a Tokyo Motor Show unveiling later this month, Nissan says the three-seat BladeGlider concept combines “both a proposal for the future direction of Nissan electric vehicle development and an exploratory prototype of an upcoming production vehicle.” Built from a carbon-fiber frame, the meter-wide front performs the same trick as the DeltaWing — reducing aerodynamic drag to unheard-of levels for greater efficiency, while allowing the rest of the body to generate downforce for better grip.
In this version, Nissan says the BladeGlider would draw power from in-hub electric motors at each rear wheel, an idea that’s been floating around the industry for more than a decade. Nissan doesn’t specify what kind of power or performance it would grant the BladeGlider, touting instead a driving experience that would emulate flying a jet along the road.
In digital form, the BladeGlider looks fascinating, much like the Infinit Emerg-E from Nissan’s luxury arm did a year ago. That concept never made it to production; despite Nissan’s billion-dollar commitment to the Leaf EV, it’s been reluctant to step beyond the safety of commuter electric cars. The question isn’t whether Nissan could put something this radical on the road, buy why it wouldn’t.
The Volkswagen XL1 will be expensive (roughly $145,000 US, if reports are to be believed) but that doesn’t mean buyers aren’t interested in the sleek, hyper-efficient machine. InAutoNews reports that more people are telling VW they want to buy the 261-mpg car than VW plans to make.
We asked VW’s Carsten Krebs about the situation, and he said there has been no decision regarding increasing production beyond the 250 VW is panning to build. VW has no comment on how it will deal with too-high demand, but Krebs told AutoblogGreen, “We are figuring out the best process, because we have huge interest in potential XL1 buyers.” As far as we can tell, the company has three options if it doesn’t want to hand-make enough cars: first come, first served, offering the cars to whoever will pay the most or make it a random lottery. We wonder where the people who won’t get their mitts on an XL1 will spend their money instead. Any ideas?
The diesel-electric plug-in hybrid XL1 uses less than a liter of fuel to go 100 kilometers (burning one liter would equal 235 mpg). The plans call for the limited run of 250 to be finished by the spring of 2014.
Before the transcontinental race in “Cannonball Run,” the starter tells the gathered racers, “You all are certainly the most distinguished group of highway scofflaws and degenerates ever gathered together in one place.”
Ed Bolian prefers the term “fraternity of lunatics.”
Where the 1981 Burt Reynolds classic was a comedic twist on a race inspired by real-life rebellion over the mandated 55-mph speed limits of the 1970s, Bolian set out on a serious mission to beat the record for driving from New York to Los Angeles.
The mark? Alex Roy and David Maher’s cross-country record of 31 hours and 4 minutes, which they set in a modified BMW M5 in 2006.
Bolian, a 28-year-old Atlanta native, had long dreamed of racing from East Coast to West. A decade ago, for a high school assignment, Bolian interviewed Brock Yates, who conceived the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, aka the Cannonball Run.
Yates, who played the previously quoted organizer in the film he wrote himself, won the first Cannonball in the early 1970s with a time of 35 hours and 53 minutes.
“I told him, ‘One day I’d like to beat your record,’ ” Bolian recalled.
Ounce of prevention
It sounds like great outlaw fun — and certainly, Hollywood added its embellishments, like the supremely confident, infidel-cursing sheik with a Rolls Royce and Sammy Davis Jr. in a priest getup — but Bolian said it took considerable research and groundwork.
Beginning in 2009, about the time he started working for Lamborghini Atlanta, Bolian researched cars, routes, moon phases, traffic patterns, equipment, gas mileage and modifications.
He went into preparation mode about 18 months ago and chose a Mercedes CL55 AMG with 115,000 miles for the journey. The Benz’s gas tank was only 23 gallons, so he added two 22-gallon tanks in the trunk, upping his range to about 800 miles. The spare tire had to go in the backseat with his spotter, Dan Huang, a student at Georgia Tech, Bolian’s alma mater.
To foil the police, he installed a switch to kill the rear lights and bought two laser jammers and three radar detectors. He commissioned a radar jammer, but it wasn’t finished in time for the trek. There was also a police scanner, two GPS units and various chargers for smartphones and tablets — not to mention snacks, iced coffee and a bedpan.
By the time he tricked out the Benz, which included a $9,000 tuneup, “it was a real space station of a thing,” he said, describing the lights and screens strewn through the car’s cockpit.
Yet he still wasn’t done. ”The hardest thing, quite honestly, was finding people crazy enough to do it with me,” he said.
Co-driver Dave Black, one of the Atlanta Lamborghini dealership’s customers, didn’t sign on until three days before they left, and “support passenger” Huang didn’t get involved until about 18 hours before the team left Atlanta for Manhattan.
If his difficulty finding a copilot wasn’t an omen, Manhattan would deliver one. While scouting routes out of the city, a GPS unit told Bolian to take a right on red, in the wrong direction down a one-way road. He was quickly pulled over.
Bolian got a warning — and a healthy dose of relief that the officer didn’t question the thick odor of fuel as he stood over the vents pumping fumes from the trunk.
Record run begins
The trio ignored what some might have considered a harbinger and the left the Red Ball Garage on East 31st Street, the starting point for Yates’ Cannonball, a few hours later. To be exact, they left October 19 at 9:55 p.m., according to a tracking company whose officials asked not be identified because they were unaware that Bolian would be driving so illegally when he hired them.
They hit a patch of traffic in New York that held them up for 15 minutes but soon had an average speed of about 90 mph. In Pennsylvania, they tapped the first of many scouts, one of Bolian’s acquaintances who drove the speed limit 150 to 200 miles ahead of the CL55 and warned them of any police, construction or other problems.
They blew through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, hitting St. Louis before dawn.
“Everything possible went perfect,” Bolian said, explaining they never got lost and rarely encountered traffic or construction delays.
By the time they hit southern Missouri, near the Oklahoma border, they learned they were “on track to break the existing record if they averaged the speed limit for the rest of the trip,” he said.
Yeah, right. This wasn’t about doing speed limits.
They kept humming west, and as they neared the Texas-New Mexico border, they calculated they might beat the 30-hour mark, a sort of Holy Grail in transcontinental racing that Bolian likened to the 4-minute mile.
Not one to settle, “we decided to break 29,” Bolian said.
The unnamed tracking company says the Benz pulled into the Portofino Hotel and Marina in Redondo Beach, California, at 11:46 p.m. on October 20 after driving 2,803 miles. The total time: 28 hours, 50 minutes and about 30 seconds.
“Most of the time, we weren’t going insanely fast,” Bolian said, not realizing his definition of “insanely” is a little different from most folks’.
When they were moving, which, impressively, was all but 46 minutes of the trip, they were averaging around 100 mph. Their total average was 98 mph, and their top speed was 158 mph, according to an onboard tracking device.
“Apart from a FedEx truck not checking his mirrors before he tried to merge on top of me, we didn’t really have any issues,” Bolian said.
Do not try this at home
He concedes his endeavor was a dangerous one, especially when you consider Bolian slept only 40 minutes of the trip, and co-driver Black slept an hour. But Bolian went out of his way to make it as safe as possible, choosing a weekend day with clear weather and a full moon — and routes, when possible, with little traffic or construction.
“I had plenty of people at home praying I’d make it safely, and, more importantly, had my wife praying that I wouldn’t have to do it again,” he said, adding he has no children, which was also a factor. “That was one of the spurs to go ahead and get this over with. That’s probably the next adventure.”
Asked if the technological advances since the previous record holders made their run gave him an advantage, Bolian replied, “Absolutely.” Because two teams broke the 32-hour mark in 2006 and 2007, he had a detailed “guide book” on how to do it, where they had to rely on word-of-mouth tales from the 1980s.
“I thank Alex for that. We’re all adding chapters to the same story of American car culture,” Bolian said. Alex Roy did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Bolian had hoped to revisit that high school interview and tell Yates he’d followed through on that promise to break his record, but Yates now suffers from Alzheimer’s.
“I’ll pay him a visit just for the sake of it,” Bolian said, “but I can’t tell him.”
Where the Cannonball scofflaws aimed to make a statement about personal freedom, Bolian said he has the utmost respect for law enforcement. His goal was merely to “add myself and pay tribute to this chapter of automotive history,” he said.
Bolian also hopes that he shattered Roy’s record by such a stark margin that it discourages would-be Cannonballers from attempting to break his record, and it’s not just a matter of his own legacy, he said.
“It really isn’t something we need a whole band of lunatics doing,” he said.